A 17-year-old Silver Back Gorilla Was Shot and Killed at the Cincinnati Zoo After a Child Climbed Into His Enclosure.
I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines and the frightening video onlookers shot of the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo when officials were forced to shoot Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla. It’s all over the news.
Here’s a recap.
My personal feelings are that I’m so mad. And sad too.
First of all, I am an animal lover, and a parent of small kids. On the animal-lover side, I have some favorites: dogs, cats, and gorillas. Yes, gorillas rank right up there for me. They are amazing creatures. So human-like. Full of personality. I am amazed by gorillas. Our zoo has a great gorilla habitat where I can spend days just watching them. I once watched a momma gorilla snuggle her baby, just like a human mommy. She was patting the baby gorilla’s back like she was burping her. I also watched a young gorilla (think teenager), pick his nose, eat it, and when the crowd watching him all yelled, “Ewwwww”, he belly-laughed, rolling on the ground and pointing at the crowd. He then stood up and picked his nose again. He realized he had an audience. Gorillas have compassion, love, and senses of humor. They are amazing creatures.
Being a fan of gorillas, I probably don’t need to say why the situation that happened this weekend really upset me. My first instinct was being very angry that they killed Harambe. The first videos released were edited so “disturbing parts” weren’t shown. But when the internet exploded with outrage, they released those. And I’m glad they did because it makes it clearer that tranquilizing him wasn’t an option. I’m not convinced he was going to hurt that child (at some points it looks like he’s actually protecting him). But I can tell he freaked out that something fell into his home and he didn’t know what to do about it. The onlookers all screaming didn’t help the situation. He became agitated very quickly. And at that point he became unpredictable. Unpredictable, but the fact is still that the gorilla did nothing wrong. NOTHING. He was a gorilla, simply being a gorilla, guarding his family and his home.
Unfortunately though, with a child’s life on the line, the zoo officials had no choice.
Jungle Jack Hanna agrees too… Watch here.
“Seeing the entire video of him dragging the child is scary to watch and shows me that zoo officials had to come to a tough decision. The unpredictability of the situation, with a child’s life in jeopardy, left them no choice.”
BUT, and here’s why I’m pissed…. the video doesn’t change a single thing about the fact that a kid at a zoo shouldn’t be able to go “under a rail, through wires and over a moat wall”, without his parents noticing. As a parent myself, I am hesitant to ever judge another parent. Ever. We all love our kids and are doing the best we can. And we’ve all had moments where we’ve screwed up. But come on. This one is tough to excuse.
WATCH YOUR CHILDREN AT ALL TIMES
Animal Biologist Jeff Corwin gave a great interview saying “a zoo is not a babysitter”, and that “parents have a responsibility to watch their kids everywhere they go”. There are a lot of parents who don’t feel the weight of that responsibility. It’s a different story if you lose sight of your kids at the local Piggly Wiggly. That has its own dangers.
At a zoo though, you are not only endangering your own children’s lives but the animals’ lives too. And this weekend, an innocent animal’s life had to be taken because of that negligence. An endangered animal, who did NOTHING WRONG.
That’s the part that makes me sad. It didn’t have to happen. And it shouldn’t have happened.
I’m not the only person mad…
So far, nearly 100,000 supporters have signed up to a campaign on Change.org calling for the parents to be investigated after the child fell up to 12 feet into the enclosure. The petition reads: “This beautiful gorilla lost his life because the boy’s parents did not keep a closer watch on the child. We the undersigned believe that the child would not have been able to enter the enclosure under proper parental supervision.”
Also, Police are deciding whether to charge the parents with child neglect.
What do you think about this situation?